Relocating in Florida with a minor child

During or after a Florida divorce, there may be many good reasons to relocate with a minor child. . A parent may wish to pursue a job opportunity in a new community, relocate to be closer to family or move for any number of other compelling reasons. Yet, if the parent who wishes to relocate with the minor child has majority time-sharing, the other parent (or another interested party who has visitation rights) may oppose the parental relocation in court.

Is the move in the best interests of the child?

Sarasota Courts, and all Florida Courts for that matter require that should a custodial parent wish to move a child or children more than 50 miles from the principle place of residence at the time the last custody order was entered, the parent must send a Notice of Intent to Relocate to every person entitled to visitation. A Notice of Intent to Relocate is a document with specific informational requirements that must be signed under oath under the penalty of perjury.

Of course, if both parents agree to a move that involves their child or children, they may sign a written agreement saying as much. However, if the noncustodial parent or anyone else entitled to visitation opposes the move, he or she must file a written objection to the proposed relocation with the court within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Intent to Relocate. This objection must also be served on the person seeking to relocate.

When a Florida court must decide whether or not to permit the child to relocate, the primary consideration is always the best interest of the child. To determine what is best for the child with respect to parental relocation, the court will look to many factors, such as:

  • The child's relationship with both the moving parent and the nonmoving parent, as well as the child's relationship with siblings, half-siblings and anyone else of significance in the child's life
  • The age, maturity and any special needs of the child, and how the move would be likely to affect the child's development
  • Whether the move will improve the general quality of life for the both the parent wishing to relocate and the child, including financial benefits or educational opportunities
  • The workability of preserving the relationship between the nonmoving parent and the child
  • The reasons of each parent for seeking or opposing the move
  • Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence by either parent
  • The child's preference, taking into account the child's age and maturity level

If an objection to the move is filed, the person seeking the relocation has the burden of proof to show that the relocation is in the best interests of the child. Under the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, this means the person wishing to move must show it is more likely than not that the move is in the best interests of the child for the court to approve it. Should the moving party meet this burden, the burden shifts to the nonrelocating parent to show by a preponderance of evidence that the move is not in the best interests of the child; if this standard is met, the court will block the move.

Call a Florida family law attorney to discuss your parental relocation case

Whether you are a parent wishing to relocate with your children, or a noncustodial parent who does not want distance to jeopardize the relationship you have with your children, you need a compelling legal argument to ensure that your case is heard favorably by the court. An experienced Florida family law attorney will be able to offer advice and help you build a strong case. Talk to a Florida family lawyer today to explore your legal options.